School victorious in vegetarian food row

The Ikšķile Brīvā skola (Free School) has won an administrative case against Latvia's Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) over the demand to include meat into children's weekly sustenance, reported Latvian Radio Wednesday.

The Brīvā skola at Ikšķele region has been feeding pupils organic vegetarian food for several years on an agreement with the parents.

This year Latvia's food-hygiene service took action against the school over not providing the children at least 200 grams of lean meat or fish every week, which is required by law. At first the school was warned, then fined €50.

The Tautskolas 99 Baltie zirgi association took to court to overturn the fine.

While the court has not released the full verdict in the case, it told Latvian Radio the general findings.

"Generally the court admitted that nutrients found in meat are required for children's wholesome development. 

However parents have the right to assume responsibility about providing a wholesome diet to the children, including by observing research over the positive or negative effect of meat products on the human organism, the quality of meat, as well as the improved accessibility of other food products that can make for mutual substitutability," said the court.

"That's why the court found it unsubstantiated that the school's action - coordinated with the parents - to forgo meat or fish products in the school's lunch menu, instead offering a balanced vegetarian lunch, would impede a child's physical or mental development," said the court. 

The PVD has not received the full verdict yet and will consider appealing only after reading the full text.

"If the court removes the requirement to provide at least 200 grams of meat or fish according to the dietary norms, we consider it to be a precedent," said PVD representative Svetlana Aļminoviča-Miļjanoviča.

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